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Members of Polygamist Cult Face Extradition Hearing

July 19, 1988

PHOENIX, Ariz. (AP) _ Two alleged members of a violent polygamist cult shielded their faces from cameras and one of them cracked jokes at a hearing in which authorities took the first step Monday toward extraditing them to face Texas robbery and burglary charges.

Bond of $20,550 apiece for Heber LeBaron, 27, and Douglas Barlow, 28, was announced Monday on the Texas charges. On Friday, the two men had bond of $560,000 each set on charges of operating an illegal enterprise in Phoenix.

While awaiting the hearing, LeBaron joked with guards and other inmates, asking guards at one point for a paper bag to put over his head. He said if it suffocated him, at least it would ″get it over quicker.″

The sect, the Church of the Lamb of God, believes in ″blood atonement″ and has been linked to 18 violent deaths in the last 22 years, including four execution-style slayings in Texas on June 27. No one is charged in those slayings, but investigators have said they want to question the half brothers and three other sect members jailed here.

All those killed over the years were relatives or former followers or critics of Ervil LeBaron, the sect’s late patriarch and the father of Heber LeBaron and Doug Barlow. The elder LeBaron died in a Utah prison in 1981 while serving a sentence for killing a rival polygamist.

Heber LeBaron told reporters he was declining interviews ″on advice of my lawyer″ and refused to identify his lawyer. At one point, he jokingly offered to be interviewed for ″one thousand bucks apiece.″

Barlow sat with his hands over his face and did not speak.

Justice of the Peace Nellie Soto told the men that Gov. Rose Mofford had 90 days to sign an extradition warrant. Meanwhile, they will remain in jail unless they post bond.

Texas wants LeBaron extradited to face a charge of aggravated robbery involving a Richardson, Texas, savings and loan institution. The state wants Barlow returned on a charge of burglary from a vehicle in Houston.

The half brothers and three other members of the Church of the Lamb of God also face charges in Arizona of operating an illegal enterprise in what authorities say was a car-theft ring.

Earlier Monday, a preliminary hearing for all five members on that charge was postponed.

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